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Monday, February 23, 2015

100 Days of Fun, Goal Setting and More-February 24, 2015

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

First graders were excited to share collections of 100 things on Monday.  Skittles, erasers, stickers, tongue depressors, pencils, crayons, marshmallows and more were carefully counted and displayed.  It seems like just the other day we were starting the school year.  Knowing that 100 days of the school year have passed is clear evidence that time flies when you’re having fun. 

In first grade, students spend a lot of time developing an understanding of whole number relationships, including grouping tens and ones.  Students develop, discuss and use efficient, accurate and generalizable methods to add within 100.  The 100s Collection projects were clear evidence of developing number sense.  Some students talked about how they grouped items by tens, others showed 30, 20, 30 and 20 totaled 100.  












One student explained how the 20+30 equals 50 and 50 plus 50 is 100.  Another explained that he had 5 colors so used 20 of each. He broke the 20s into smaller groups and showed how 5 groups of 4 equal 20.  Several students mentioned that designs were inspired by a combination of Pinterest and a desire to use up leftover Valentine’s Day candy.  It’s interesting to see how web based resources have changed what it means to think critically and creatively.  It’s interesting to see how children take ideas and make them their own by refining, synthesizing, and using information in new ways.   

Thank you for participating in conferences last week.  We appreciate having the time to share with you how your child is performing academically, socially and behaviorally.  We hope that you also find these conferences to be of value.  While this is our last conference of the year, our staff will continue to instruct and assess students as they work to achieve their individual learning goals and work towards proficiency of their grade level learning targets.  In the Beaverton School District, our goal is for all students to show continuous progress toward their personal learning goals, developed in collaboration with teachers and parents so that students will be prepared for post-secondary education and career success.  I’ve had the privilege of reading the Plan and Profile sheets from several classes.  I noticed specific examples where students and parents committed to extra practice time in order to boost skills.  I saw this in the area of reading when several students noted that instead of reading the minimum amount of time for homework, they would double it and read that amount before school and after school.  It reminded me of the daily doubles our sports team do.  I also saw how several committed to learning basic math facts by practicing skip counting in the car, in their head as they are brushing teeth and during TV commercials so that multiplication facts become effortless and automatic.  I hope that you were able to develop meaningful goals and actions steps! 

Cinderella was at the Keller last weekend.  My family went home singing songs about impossible things happening every day.  Now that she too is an educator, my daughter and I get to share with one another the exciting things about working with eager learners.  Schools are worlds of promise and possibility.  The students in school today will change our world tomorrow.  Thank you for sharing your children with us! 

Sincerely,

Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
A.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.
Principal

Reminders:
·      Oregon has one of the shortest school years in the nation.  It is vital that students attend school when we are in session.  Kids should miss school only if they have a fever or are throwing up.  
·      From our PTC …Bidding has started for the classroom projects. Head to the auction website: www.charityauctionorganizer.com/auction/Sextonmountain and follow these easy steps:
                If you have bought auction tickets, you are already registered as a bidder and should have received your bidder number.
                If you have NOT bought tickets, you can register as a bidder to receive a bidder number.
                Click on CATALOG.
                Find the project you want to bid on …….and start bidding!  Keep checking back to make sure that someone hasn’t outbid you!
                Bidding closes at 5pm on March 5th.  We will notify winners after that time.
·      Parents are encouraged to do weekly head checks for lice or nits.  Catching them early and interrupting the life cycle are the best ways to avoid big outbreaks. 

Thanks:
·       Thanks to the Art Literacy team for doing such an amazing job of providing our students with an opportunity to showcase their work, observe professional artists at work and create their own work last Wednesday night. 
·       Thanks to all the clever volunteers who worked so hard to make the classroom projects for the auction so incredibly amazing!
·        
Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school.  Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.
·      Volunteers are needed to help with Kindergarten Orientation. Contact Mrs. CB if you are willing to help out from 3:30-5:00pm on March 12.  This is a great activity for high school students hoping to do community service. For each of the volunteer positions, all materials are provided as well as instructions for the job.  The goal for each of the jobs is for families and children to feel connected. Jobs and descriptions are posted below:
o   Sparky-Serve as our mascot (this can be warm) and greet children between 3:40-4:15pm.
o   Sparky’s Handler-Help Sparky move about safely between 3:40 and 4:15pm.
o   Welcome Table-Greet guests, get them the correct materials and point them in the right direction between 3:40 and 4:15pm.
o   Phonics Activity Table-Greet children and get them started on a Nifty Noodle Necklace Project between 3:40 and 4:15pm.
o   Backpack Sorting Table-Greet children and help them (and families) see the importance of having the right sized backpack with a backpack sorting activity between 3:40 and 4:15pm.
o   Math Activity Table-Show children how to play a game between 3:40-4:15pm. 
o   Mascot Puppet Table-Help children make an eagle puppet between 3:40 and 4:15pm.
o   Tour Guides-Welcome adults and give them a tour of the school 4:25-5:00pm
o   Tech Greeter-Website/Sparky’s Page/Volunteer Background Check Facilitator-Welcome adults to the computer lab and show them where to complete the Volunteer Background check and where they can find info on our PTC and other online community tools.
·      Children’s magazines can always be put to good use in our cafeteria.
·      Antibacterial or disinfecting wipes are needed for the computer lab.  Mrs. Kramer cleans the computers regularly and wipes make her job much easier.
·      Sugarless Chewing Gum will be put to good use in the upcoming months.
·      A volunteer is needed to spiffy up cubbies and tables that will be used for full day kindergarten next year.  Your creative license will come in handy along with contact paper (we will provide that)!  Let Mrs. CB know if you’d like to do this project for us anytime between now and June 12.


Upcoming Events


February 25 Passport Club
February 27 PBIS Assembly at 8:30am
February 27 Final OBOB Battle-2:15
March 3  5th Graders Visit Highland
March 7 OBOB Regional Battle
March 7 PTC Learn and Play Auction
March 10-PTC Meeting at 9:00am
March 12 Kindergarten Orientation at 4:00pm
March13 Grading Day - No School
March 18  5th Grade BizTown Trip
March 19 Passport Club

March 20 PBIS Assembly at 8:30am
March 23-27-Spring Break-No School
April 2  Cynthia Lord Author Visit
9:00-9:45 K, 1st, 2nd (PM kinders welcome to attend with adult)
10:35-11:30 AM Tsakistos, Simpson, Shotola, Baldwin, Olson
1:30-2:30PM- Stratton, Bartlett, Hunt, Tanksley, Pfaff 
April 9 Literacy Night-6:30-7:30pm
April 11 Run with the Eagles 5K
April 14 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
April 15 Passport Club
April 23 Jog-a-thon

April 23 PTC Science Fair
April 24 Staff Development Day-No School
May 1 PBIS Assembly at 8:30am May 12 PTC Meeting at 9:00am
May 13 Passport Club
May 15 PTC Carnival
May 21-Volunteer Appreciation-2:00pm
May 22 Assessment Day- No School
May 25 Memorial Day-No School
June 5 Field Day
June 9 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
June 12 Last Day of School

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Art of Story Telling-February 17, 2015

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                  

On Friday afternoon our building was full of celebrating children.  In a third grade classroom, a group of students had circled around one game.  They chanted, “Go!  Go!  Go!”  The players were encouraged.  It sounded a little bit like a college party as portrayed in movies.  If encouraging is a college and career readiness skill, this class has it nailed!

I am really looking forward to Family Art Night!  Students’ artwork has been coming in and it’s amazing!  The Auction Projects are also on display.  From benches to platters and peacocks, I can’t wait to bid on items to beautify my home and office!  In addition to the artwork you can see, there will also be hands on projects.  I am very excited about a family story project.  I hope many people will take part.

Story telling builds vocabulary, collaboration skills, stamina, sequencing and recall skills.  Family stories are the first children hear and the ones most often repeated.   At my family reunion last weekend I sat next to my Great Aunt Arlene as she talked about her childhood memories of work on the farm.  Her hands, now gnarled with arthritis, demonstrated her technique for plucking the pin-feathers from chickens.  Though the younger folks seemed horrified by her tales of working through 60 chickens in one day, she had a dreamy smile as she described how the whole family worked together to have all 60 chickens canned in Mason jars by days end.  I have to admit that my pin-feather experience was non-existent so I did have to Wiki it to better understand.  Arlene’s story reminded my cousin Todd of a dissection experience in his middle-school science classroom.  Todd’s story reminded my husband of working at a truck stop and cracking hundreds of eggs on Saturday mornings.  The storytelling continued.

When you come to the Art Fair Wednesday night, please check out the artwork in the book In My Family.  The author includes simple stories about her family’s experience and her childhood memories.  Our first graders made some connections to different parts of the text.  Feel free to add your memories to the charts they’ve started.  If your family has a connection to one of the stories in the book, please write and illustrate your own story and add it to the “To Be Published” basket.  You can work on your story at home too if you’d like.  Be sure to get your artwork, story and a family picture to me by February 27.  I will compile the stories into a book on February 28.   When we did this project at my previous school, the book we made quickly became the favorite in the library as children got to read about small experiences in the lives of others. 

I’ve shared repeatedly the importance of teaching children the habits of mind needed in order to be college and career ready by reading texts closely.  We cite, describe, analyze, synthesize, choose, infer, interpret, compare, contrast and define as we read and respond.  As you write your story, use what you’ve learned from closely reading the work of others.  Carmen Lomas Garza, the author of In My Family, let’s the artwork tell the story. Her writing is simple and straight forward.   Think about the style used in your child’s favorite book or the authors you enjoy.  Play with language, word choice, patterns, and tone to create your story.

The BEST part of our school is the 500+ students, staff and families because each person brings a unique perspective that adds to the richness of Sexton Mountain.  When we share our stories, we building connections and that betters our school and community!

Sincerely,

Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.
Principal

Reminders:
·      Parents are encouraged to do weekly head checks for lice or nits.  Catching them early and interrupting the life cycle are the best ways to avoid big outbreaks. 
·      There will be no school for students on Thursday and Friday because of Parent-Family conferences.

Thanks:
·       Thanks to the Eriksson, Isenhart and Fife-Adams families for donating chewing gum to our school. 
·       Thanks to the McLeod’s for donating a rocking chair to our school. 
·       Thanks to the Khartikova family for donating foaming hand soap.
·        
Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school.  Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.
·      Children’s magazines
·      Antibacterial or disinfecting wipes are needed for the computer lab. 
·      Sugarless Chewing Gum
·      A volunteer is needed to spiffy up cubbies that will be used for full day kindergarten next year.  Your creative license will come in handy!  Let Mrs. CB know if you’d like to do this project for us.
·       A volunteer is needed to spiffy up tables by covering them with contact paper.

Upcoming Events

February 18 PTC Art Fair 6:30-8:00pm
February 19-20 Parent-Teacher Conferences-No School
February 25 Passport Club
February 27 Final OBOB Battle-2:15 in the Library
March 7 OBOB Regional Battle
March 7 PTC Learn and Play Auction
March 10-PTC Meeting at 9:00am
March 12 Kindergarten Orientation at 4:00pm
March13 Grading Day - No School
March 18  5th Grade BizTown Trip
March 19 Passport Club
March 23-27-Spring Break-No School April 9 One School One Book Night-6:30-7:30pm
April 11 Run with the Eagles 5K
April 14 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
April 15 Passport Club
April 23 Jog-a-thon
April 23 PTC Science Fair
April 24 Staff Development Day-No School
May 12 PTC Meeting at 9:00am
May 13 Passport Club
May 15 PTC Carnival
May 21-Volunteer Appreciation Day
May 22 Staff Development Day- No School
May 25 Memorial Day-No School
June 5 Field Day
June 9 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
June 12 Last Day of School


Monday, February 9, 2015

Remain Calm and Carry On-We've Got This!--February 10, 2015


Dear Sexton Mt. Families:   

DON’T FREAK OUT! I am about to give you my perspective on a possibly controversial subject and it is essential that you remain calm.

Let’ me start with a little story.  A few years ago, a kindergarten student came into my office, put her hands on her hips and said, “DON’T FREAK OUT!”  I can’t remember why she felt the need to start our interaction that way, but her actions were memorable as she obviously thought my reaction to whatever she’d done would be WILD and her words and gesture caught my attention.  I’ve spent decades in public schools, so I really only get freaked out by snakes, worms when they wiggle through the fingers of a child who has told me, “I’m not hiding anything in my hand” and anything that involves regurgitation.  I will admit that IF I watch too much TV, certain news shows can pull me in the freak out direction but when I return to school with my real kids and real classrooms,  I remember that news networks know nothing about the reality of my school and my classrooms so I’m able to remain calm because GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT SEXTON MT. SCHOOL. 

Again, DON’T FREAK OUT!  I am about to introduce words that, according to some, cause quite the stir in our community.  I think there is so much speculation based on the possible unknown, that again, if you have negative associations with these words, I want to remind you…. DON’T FREAK OUT!   What are the words?... Take a deep breath….The terms are Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessment.

I am sure to have lost a large percentage of my audience as many of my newsletter readers have enough information to not only “not freak out” but to stop reading now because you know we’ve got it covered.  For the rest of my readers, I want to share some information about the terms and what they mean for our school.

For those still reading, I want to stress the importance of keeping calm and carrying on because we have it covered.  If parents are calm, kids are calm.  If kids are calm , teachers are calm.  Calm is good!

Common Core State Standards are what we teach.  Your kids are learning and engaged in the work every day.  We have exceptional teachers engaging your children each and every day in the right things.  We’ve got it covered.  On some news programs, “common core” is used in a way that makes it sound scary but really, it’s what we teach every day.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is the tool used to assess math and English Language Arts standards in third, fourth and fifth grades.  Because our students are working in class daily on the standards, being assessed on the standards is the natural next step.  This assessment is a bit different than the OAKS test of past years because it’s more like a classroom assignment than the traditional multiple choice test. Students take it once then are done with testing for the year.  Again, some make “smarter balanced” seem like it’s a scary thing, we’ve got it covered because it’s simply testing on what we teach. 

The daily routine of school includes the academic and technological skills needed in order for kids to do well, so we won’t make a big deal of testing. If kids are here for the learning, they will be just fine!   It will be just another thing in our day.  If you’d like to see what the tests might be like, you can check out the sample tests.  Unfortunately the sample tests cover several grade levels so the samples don’t necessarily align with standards, but they do give you a chance to learn about the type of assessment kids will be taking.  Again, don’t freak out if it seems a bit hard because it may be on content that is not at your child’s grade level standard.    To get to the sample test  go to http://oaksportal.org/ , log in as a guest student and select an ELA (English Language Arts) or Math test.

You may notice a few things that are different than the “fill in the bubble” tests you may have done as a child.  Some questions require short answer.  Kids will need to type their response.  They practice typing in Technology class and apply the skill on other projects.  Some questions are multiple choice with one answer and some are multiple choice with several answers, so kids will have to read the questions closely and respond, just like they do on classroom assignments.  The math section has number problems and kids will get to use drawing type tools and do lots of clicking and dragging.  Again, these are skills they practice in technology so it won’t be new  for students.

Students in grades 3-5 will take the test sometime during the last 12 weeks of school.  We are going to be pretty calm about testing this year because we will be able to embed it in our regular routine. Our goal is to prepare our students for an ever changing world.  I’ve described some of the changes today and I hope you know that our kids are ready!  In previous newsletters, I've let you know that we are actively teaching and practicing close reading.  Close reading is a skill that will help children think critically and creatively, develop an understanding of important content, act in a self-directed and collaborative way and build skills and information so that they are able to go into the world to navigate locally and globally.  Our emphasis on close reading this year has made it so that our kids are THINKERS and PROBLEM SOLVERS.  Please approach every day of learning in a positive way and exude confidence in your child.  Close reading is a skill that will build college and career readiness skills so that our children will be prepared for a wide range of post-secondary options.   

I tried to approach a serious topic in a silly way today and I hope I haven’t offended anyone.  Teaching and learning is what we do so we really do have it covered!

On an entirely different note,  thanks to all who turned out on Sunday for the fun event that benefited Dorenbecher’s Children’s Hospital. I am constantly amazed by our community and the number of people able to take action on ideas and make them reality. 






Great things happen at Sexton Mountain because we have an amazing community working together!  I feel honored to be part of such a special place.


Sincerely,

Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.
Principal

Reminders:
·      Medications, including cough drops, must be signed in to the office by adults so that we can monitor dosage and use.
·      There are books available for parent check out from the office on the topic of teaching children about Internet images.
·      During morning drop off, please park in a legal space and walk your child to the school if your child is not yet able to independently get in and out of the car.

Thanks:
·      Thanks to the Kelly Jones for picking up books from Powell’s and saving us shipping fees.
·      Thanks to the Ferguson family for donating children’s magazines for our kids to enjoy.
·      Thanks to Kara Ebbutt and Stu Cobain for making deliveries of materials to other schools for us last week.
·      Thanks to Stacy Namdar for the donation of soap.

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school.  Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.
·      Children’s magazines
·      Sugarless chewing gum
·      Small dry erase boards or small erasers for dry erase boards
·      Liquid hand soap
·      Zip ties

Upcoming Events
February 10 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
February 16 Presidents’ Day-No School
February 18 PTC Art Fair 6:30-8:00pm
February 19-20 Parent-Teacher Conferences-No School
February 25 Passport Club
February 27 Final OBOB Battle
March 7 OBOB Regional Battle
March 7 PTC Learn and Play Auction
March 9-12 Book Fair
March 10-PTC Meeting at 9:00am
March 12 Kindergarten Orientation at 4:00pm
March13 Grading Day - No School
March 18  5th Grade BizTown Field Trip
March 19 Passport Club (note date change)
March 23-27-Spring Break-No School
April 9 One School One Book Literacy Night-6:30-7:30pm
April 11 Run with the Eagles 5K
April 14 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
April 15 Passport Club
April 23 Jog-a-thon
April 23 PTC Science Fair
April 24 Staff Development Day-No School
May 12 PTC Meeting at 9:00am
May 13 Passport Club
May 15 PTC Carnival
May 21-Volunteer Appreciation Day
May 22 Staff Development Day- No School
May 25 Memorial Day-No School
June 5 Field Day
June 9 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
June 12 Last Day of School